Vicki Iovine from Los Angeles, Calif., is a finalist in the Dear GMA Advice Guru Contest. Read her application below!
Essay My epiphany to give up trying to be perfect inspired me to write my first book, "Girlfriends' Guide to Pregnancy." ..."Girlfriends' Guide to Surviving the First Year of Motherhood" was published a couple of years later. Since then, I've also written "Girlfriends' Guide to Toddlers" and "Girlfriends' Guide to Getting Your Groove Back." In the meantime, I became known as a TV and radio personality, as well. ...I also became an advice columnist on relationships... My educational background includes a Phi Beta Kappa and Summa Cum Laude B.A. degree in Journalism from UC Berkeley, a J.D. from UC Hastings College of Law and I was a Rotary Fellow to Cambridge University in England where I earned a degree in International Law and was published in the International Law Journals. I am a member of the California Bar. Most essential to my qualifications to work for GMA, however, is my preference for "been there, done that" experience to "experts." There isn't a personal story I've been told that I've forgotten; be it the details or your labor and delivery or your lack of sexual satisfaction with your mate. I don't tell tales or deal in vulgarity, but I share my own experiences and the anonymous ones of my trusted friends, of which there are now thousands. And I'm funny, at least to everyone who is not my son or daughter. I love the outrageous, the heartfelt and the terrified way most of us confront our lives and believe that once we can find the humor of recognition in our foibles, we are set free. I'm currently in love, which is worth several advice columns in itself -- especially where "new sex" is concerned, as well as dealing with the opinions of four judgmental kids.
What's the best advice you have ever given? What was the result?
"Surrender your desire to be perfect!" When you achieve it, or at least appear to, others to resent you, and when you fall short, it creates self-loathing that robs you of all fun and spontaneity in life. The worst part is that it lacks a healthy measure of humility; we're either trying to be better than everyone or succumbing to the secret worry that we're way worse. I've been preaching the Celebration of Imperfection ever since my first pregnancy; actually even BEFORE. I couldn't get pregnant for three years after marrying. Talk about imperfection! I couldn't even achieve what a drunken 16-year-old managed to do in the backseat of a car! What did I do? I made it my secret. I was ashamed of my "imperfection." Eventually, I DID get pregnant -- four times! -- and STILL I lied. I was ashamed of how much weight I gained in the first trimester so I lied and told my OB that I normally weighed 15 pounds more than I actually did. I sneaked coffee from time to time and lied about that. I didn't even want to TRY natural childbirth, but you'd never know from talking to me. I so wanted to be Perfectly Pregnant, but I never measured up! After the birth of my fourth perfect child, I wrote my first book...to tell my "truths" and reassure women like me who yearned to be perfect that it was an exercise in futility and an exercise in ingratitude.
What would you tell this person: "Whenever there is an issue between my mother-in-law and me, my husband refuses to stand up for me. How do I get him to value our relationship more than the one with his mother?
We wives compete with our mothers-in-law because we're so insecure about transitioning from our guy's lover to the Mistress of His Life, The Mother of His Children, His Helpmate and Caretaker (sometimes), The Keeper of His Household and The One He Turns To. Guess what, she's already got 30 years of experience and tenure and we always lose that game. For example, my husband loved his Italian mother's Eggplant Parmesan. I sucked up my pride and asked her for her recipe. Much as she ended up loving me, she never shared with me her secret which was to rub a little sugar into each strip of eggplant to take out the bitterness. Since I wasn't much interested in cooking to begin with, my efforts to feed him like his mother did were already doomed and this little bit of sabotage didn't help. I finally wised up and, when my husband wanted his mother's Eggplant Parmesan, I'd send him to her. Then when he was well fed, I'd take him home and show him all the ways that I could love him that his mother couldn't -- if you catch my drift. I was his lover and we were defining an entirely NEW relationship together; one in which I wasn't defined by my cooking. Never create a "her or me" dynamic with your mate because there's plenty of room in his heart for both of you; just in different ways. Stay quiet when she tries to tell you how to do things and then keep one or two suggestions while silently kicking the rest to the curb. Trust me, once you birth one of his children, he was see you as a goddess with supreme power. After that, when his mother says your baby should always wear a cap, even in California in the summer, just smile and let her put it on--it won't kill you or the baby and it's so much easier. Besides, she'll probably cook for you AND clean your house!
Finalist Vicki Iovine Could be Next GMA Advice Guru
What would you tell this person: "While cleaning my son's room, I accidentally saw on his Facebook page threatening remarks from his friends. I fear he's being bullied. What should I do?"
Don't pull that on me, Mom! No mother "accidentally" sees her child's Facebook. Even now that my kids are ages 16-22, I'm not allowed to "friend" them -- it's like my family's version of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." But now that you suspect your son is being bullied, you must act on it. Just try to avoid looking like a loose cannon. Your son will be freaked out if you confront him with the facts of your realization because he'll think that you'll go running to the principal and to the parents of the bullies and humiliate him further, which you will be sorely tempted to do....Ask your son in a general way if he is liking his teachers, coaches or counselors this year. If he says anything remotely positive, ask for a name, but don't act like you're concerned for any particular reason. If he gives you a name or two, send them an email saying, "My son is really responding well to your teaching/coaching/counseling and I'm very grateful. I'd like to meet with you or take you to coffee one day soon." Then make a date and present your fears to him or her without hysteria, blame or outrageous expectations like, "These kids need to be reported to the police and expelled immediately!!" This is also the time to reach out to your son's friends, if he has any who are trustworthy, but not to ask for their intervention on your son's behalf! ... I have much more to say about this, but suffice to say that bullying is deadly serious and you can't ever just assume it's over. If you suspect that your child is deeply unhappy, consider moving him to another school.
What would you tell this person: "My boss keeps taking credit for my ideas. What should I do?"
I'm going to guess that this question comes from a woman. We are notorious for giving, giving, giving and then resenting it and feeling taken for granted. So, my first advice is to take the "slight" out of the equation. Anyone who hires us to work for them EXPECTS us to make them look good; wouldn't you? In most cases, a boss's peers know exactly who he is and what he's capable of so if you're supporting him, they'll know. It's not his job, however, to signal to his bosses and peers that YOU are the secret to his success. In fact, if you're that needy of recognition, other people in the company may be hesitant to work with you because you're not a "team player." If, however, after careful introspection on your part, you think your boss is intentionally keeping you down, consider starting a project that would involve other divisions or areas of the company, even if this would be "extracurricular" and require you giving some of your private, unpaid hours to it. If, for example, you work in Human Resources and you have a great idea for the PR division to combine the great childcare opportunities at your company as a public relations asset in the company's branding, try it out on your boss AND the appropriate person in PR. That way, other people can see your talents, too. Plus, the fact that you're that committed to seeing your company shine will impress everybody -- all the way up to the CEO.
Submissions have been edited for length, style and clarity.